Academy Themes Announced
Athens Elementary will become a Computer Science Academy beginning fall 2018.
Brookhill Elementary will become a Fine Arts Academy beginning fall 2018.
Julian Newman Elementary will become a Health and Medical Academy beginning fall 2018.
Cowart Elementary will become SPARK Academy beginning fall 2017.
SPARK Academy and Cowart conversion 2017-2018
All current Cowart students will be SPARK students in the fall of 2017. They will follow all existing guidelines and policies that currently govern SPARK Academy, including the uniform policy. SPARK Academy welcomes the leadership of a new principal, Dr. Beth McKinney. Athens City Schools has an open door policy regarding discussion of any concerns or questions parents may have. For information regarding uniforms, policies or questions in general, please contact Dr. McKinney at email@example.com or call 256.233.6600.
Academy Comments or Questions?
We are in a season of tremendous change as a district. While every effort has been made to keep parents informed of the changes in our district, we understand that you still may have questions. Athens City Schools has an open door policy regarding questions and comments and welcomes discussion.
There are many specifics to be determined over the next year for the AES, BES and JNES Academies. Decisions regarding things like uniforms, academy names, curricula and more will be made between now and fall 2018.
To discuss any issue related to the academies, please contact Athens City Schools to schedule a time to talk. We will do our best to put you in front of the very best person available to answer your particular questions.You may call central office directly at 256.233.6600.
We also encourage you to contact members of the board. The Board of Education represents our community with matters related to our schools. Reach out to them to discuss the academies or any questions you have regarding Athens City Schools. A list of board member emails can be found by scrolling down this page. Their phone numbers are available on the Athens City Schools district website.
There is a plan to have Advisory Councils set up at each academy. The details and particulars of these councils is currently being developed by the leadership team at Athens City Schools. For more questions regarding Advisory Councils, please contact the ACS Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Mr. Garner Ezell by email at firstname.lastname@example.org@acs-k12.org or call 256.233.6600.
Board of Education
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Imagine the possibilities: The six possible academy themes
Fine Arts Academy
Classical Studies Academy
Environmental Studies Academy
Computer Science Academy
Health & Medical Academy
Academies Information FLYER
Take the survey: Determining the final four academy themes for our system
The academy theme selection process began with an initial survey distributed to the community. The first survey asked parents, teachers and community members to share their ideas for academy themes for the district. The purpose was to cast a wide net regarding ideas and possibilities and to offer the invitation to stakeholders to be a part of the transformation process.
The field of academy themes has been narrowed down to six possible themes. The system invites you – parent, teacher, community member – to partner with us again. Please complete this short survey. You will be asked to select four academy themes that you believe would be relevant, useful and meaningful for ACS elementary schools.
We ask that you select four. Three will be selected for Athens Elementary, Brookhill Elementary and Julian Newman Elementary. The fourth selection will be the academy for any future elementary school, should growth demand it.
Your participation and input will be a factor in determining the academy themes for Athens City Schools. We earnestly urge you to consider completing this survey.
The academy theme selections will be presented to the Board of Education at the May 11, 2017 meeting.
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Athens Academies Information Night
April 18, 2017
A community wide meeting regarding the transition of existing elementary schools in Athens city to academies is scheduled for Tuesday, April 18 at 6:30 p.m. at Athens Intermediate School. The meeting will be held in the “cafetorium”. Speakers will be Dr. Trey Holladay, Superintendent and Mr. Garner Ezell, Director of Curriculum and Instruction for Athens City Schools system. There will be a question and answer session following the presentation.
Athens Intermediate School is located at 1916 US Hwy 72 W, Athens, Alabama 35611.
Imagine the possibilities: The Academies of Athens
April 15, 2017
“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” – Maya Angelou
Imagine better. Imagine more. Imagine the future.
Athens City Schools invites the community to imagine the possibilities of a new landscape in elementary education in the city. It takes courage to let go of the familiar and embrace the new. I’ve read that change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end. However, progress is impossible without change, and the mission of ACS is to be progressive.
Superintendent Trey Holladay announced in March a plan for elementary academies. Existing elementary schools in the district will transition and become themed academies serving grades K-3 beginning fall 2018.
The academy concept will look similar to today’s elementary school with the fundamental difference being the academy teaches through a specific “lens” or focus.
“Each elementary will continue teaching to the same standards. The difference is that these standards will be taught through academy specific themes,” said Holladay.
To continue the long-standing tradition of excellence, ACS must adapt to change that pushes one outside the box, outside comfort zones and into a space where intuition, creativity and the power of “and” can be experienced. This fundamental shift in thinking has the power to positively influence the way students experience school – and the world – for years to come.
Many people are asking the relevant question – why? ACS has always been a premiere school system. So why? Let me share some insight regarding the rationale behind this decision:
- Because public education is trending toward school choice at an ever-increasing rate. Given the changing landscape of education, it is important to the continued success of ACS that it demonstrate public schools can be the choice. Parents are looking for choices. ACS has a unique opportunity to provide the choices. To provide these choices, it requires ACS to think about public education in a different way. Academies are a way to bring choice to ACS and be the owners, makers and creators of the choices and the future.
- Because SPARK is an indicator for choice. SPARK Academy is the first of the new academies concept in Athens. It was the first step out of the box. The overwhelming interest in SPARK Academy by virtue of increased applications and enrollment along with the response from parents was a major indicator that parents in this community want choice. It sent a clear signal to ACS leadership that school choice was important to them.
- Because ACS leadership believes a rising tide lifts all boats. Dr. Holladay and his team believe that every student in ACS deserves a special, amazing and high-quality education. “I am committed, convicted and motivated to do whatever it takes to deliver the very best educational opportunities for each and every student in this district,” said Holladay. From north to south, east to west, he cares. He will continue to press forward, onward, upward and outside the box to deliver the brightest futures possible for all students.
- Because the academies will provide greater opportunity for parent involvement in the shaping of each academy at the neighborhood school level. Parent boards will be formed for each school and will have great influence on the particulars of how the academies are shaped, what options are offered and more. It opens up possibilities for partnership, collaboration, parent investment and engagement in a meaningful way.
The academy theme selections will be determined through a collaborative and transparent process that will include teachers, parents, and community members. A public meeting will be held next week to provide parents the opportunity to learn about the academy concept, provide input and ask questions.
Athens Academies Parent Information Night is at Athens Intermediate School on Tuesday, April 18 at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will be in the Cafetorium.
Imagine linking teachers and students with their true passions and interests. Imagine discovery, ingenuity and partnerships.
Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly. Author Trina Paulus wrote, “How does one become a butterfly? You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.”
ACS invites you to imagine the “and”, the gain, the better. Imagine the flight.
Athens City Schools Elementary Academies Information Night April 18 at Athens Intermediate School
April 11, 2017
Athens City Schools will host Athens Academies Information Night on Tuesday, April 18 at 6:30 p.m. at Athens Intermediate School. This will be an important informational session for all community members. Superintendent Dr. Trey Holladay and Mr. Garner Ezell, Director of Curriculum and Instruction for ACS, will be the speakers. The purpose of the meeting is to share what the academies are about in general, how they are being developed, why the academies are good for Athens and how the community can be a part of the process. Following the presentation, there will be an opportunity ask questions and provide input on the future of the elementary landscape in Athens City.
ACS prides itself on being a community connected by education. This progressive approach to restructure the elementary experience is visionary, and it is the defining characteristic of an innovative school district. ACS believes that with the academies come great gains for our students. This transition will bring the opportunity for our students to learn, grow and develop in relevant ways that prepare them for success in the modern world. ACS is listening to regional business partners, researching and analyzing data and preparing our students for a bright future.
The plan to transition existing elementary schools in the district to themed academies is currently underway. Administrators and instructional leadership teams have been working diligently to lay the foundation for this new chapter in elementary education in Athens. The implementation of the academies will usher in a new era of innovation and excellence in ACS. The academy concept will look similar to today’s elementary schools with the fundamental difference being that the academy teaches through a specific “lens” or focus.
Standard curriculum will continue to be taught. Reading, writing, math and science will still be taught to the highest standards. “Each elementary will continue teaching to the standards of the Alabama Course of Study per the Alabama State Department of Education. The difference is that these standards will be taught through academy specific themes,” said Dr. Trey Holladay, Superintendent.
As promised, the academy theme selections are being determined through a collaborative and transparent process that includes teachers, parents, and community members. The district has sought input from the community, administrators and teachers. A survey collected ideas for possible themes for the academies. The information session is another important step in inviting the community to be a part of the process.
“We believe it is important for our community to partner with us during this transition. Right now we are dreaming big and considering what the academies could potentially look like,” said Ezell. “It is critical that the academies be relevant, logical and make sense for our students, parents, community and regional industry interests.” Ezell goes on to say that over the course of the next year, parent involvement through school specific boards will be a major determining factor in how the academies will take shape. The details possibilities are numerous, and parent board involvement will be key in shaping each academy after the themes are determined.
The academy theme selections have been narrowed to six possibilities: Fine Arts, Classical Studies, Computer Science, Health and Medical, Environmental Sustainability and Business and Entrepreneurial Design. Please note: these are not the names of the academies. Names will be decided at the local school level by each school in conjunction with their board. These are the final six themed areas from which four will be chosen. Three academy themes will be selected for Athens Elementary, Brookhill Elementary and Julian Newman Elementary. The fourth will be held aside for the eventuality of another school in the future.
The nature of the academies allows for partnerships between the community and our schools in a new and meaningful way. Academies tend to create more opportunities for practical application of the things students learn in school everyday. The Athens academies will have true partnerships with the community in direct ways. ACS is creating a culture of collaboration that will result in the development of authentic relationships between our schools and community.
“The entire academy concept presents a unique opportunity to truly realize the vision of One Athens,” said Alyson Carpenter, Professional Learning Specialist for ACS. “A necessary result of this change will be the igniting of passion in our students and our teachers. The culture is shifting. Innovation breeds passion, energy and excitement. There is no shortage of research that shows that passionate teachers are effective teachers, and effective teachers are the single most important factor in student outcomes.”
The first school to make the transition to an academy will be Cowart Elementary. Cowart has housed SPARK Academy this year and will become a full STEM Academy in August 2017. The remaining elementary schools will open as academies in fall 2018.
The plan is expected to go before the board for a vote at the May 11 Board of Education meeting at the ACS central office.
Introducing Elementary Academies and Athens Creative Exchange
March 24, 2017
Athens City Schools Superintendent Trey Holladay announced a plan to transition existing elementary schools in the district to themed academies beginning fall 2018. The elementary academies will be grades K-3.
The announcement came at the Board of Education meeting Thursday, March 23.
The first school to make the transition to an academy will be Cowart Elementary. Cowart has housed SPARK Academy this year and will become a full STEM Academy in August 2017. Plans for transitioning the remaining three elementary schools are in the beginning stages and are being led by the ACS Instructional Leadership Team under the direction of Garner Ezell, Director of Curriculum and Instruction for ACS. Timelines are under development for the roll out of the plan’s specific details and implementation.
The plan is expected to go before the board for a vote at the May 11 Board of Education meeting at the ACS central office.
The academy concept will look similar to today’s elementary school with the fundamental difference being that the academy teaches through a specific “lens” or focus.
“Each elementary will continue teaching to the standards of the Alabama Course of Study per the Alabama State Department of Education. The difference is that these standards will be taught through academy specific themes,” said Holladay.
The academy theme selections will be determined through a collaborative and transparent process that will include teachers, parents, and community members. A public meeting will be held at Athens High School, April 18 at 6:30 p.m. to provide parents the opportunity to ask questions and learn about the academy concept. Various surveys will also be distributed as a way to obtain input.
Existing zoning for elementary schools will not change. However, a family may apply to a different academy outside their school zone. The criteria for students requesting enrollment in an academy outside their school zone will be determined after input is received from all stakeholders. Busing will be provided.
Along with this change, Athens City Schools will see a school realignment. Beginning fall 2018, all elementary schools will be K-3. Fourth and fifth grades will become Athens Intermediate School. Athens Middle School will consist of grades 6-8 and will be moved to the current Athens High School building. Grades 9-12 will be at the new Athens High School currently under construction next to the Board of Education central office.
Another innovative opportunity that will be available to Athens High School sophomores, juniors and seniors in fall 2017 is the Athens Creative Exchange. This program is designed to be a partnership between Athens City Schools, students, parents and the business community to provide real-world opportunities for students to develop hands-on skills outside the classroom.
The goal is to move students outside the traditional school environment and place them in local businesses or with craftsmen and artisans where they can develop workforce readiness skills and acquire marketable skills. Their experience complements the earned credits in the core academic areas to fulfill graduation requirements
The program will meet in Downtown Athens during school. While there, students will take pre-approved courses in which the curriculum is blended seamlessly into the program. The program is designed to be flexible. It will allow students to participate in athletics or band. It will also combine participation in this program with Advanced Placement or dual enrollment courses. The program is designed to be completely personalized, meeting the needs and interests of students.
The first Athens Creative Exchange information session is April 24, 6:00 p.m., at Athens High School. Registration opens April 25. Interested students and parents may call Dr. Rick Carter at 256-233-6600 for more information.
For questions regarding the Athens Elementary Academies, please call 256-233-6600.